Tony (2009)

Directed by: Gerard Johnson

Since the beginning of time, human beings have killed other human beings. Some do it for patriotism, some for God, and others for money or power or women. The reasons for taking the life of another human being are vast and complex and terrifying. But none are quite as terrifying as people who murder for seemingly no reason at all.

Gerard Johnson presents us with this particular brand of domestic horror in “Tony”, a film about a London based serial killer. Too many times in film history, I feel serial killers are portrayed as the rich suave sociopaths like Pat Bateman in the legendary “American Pyscho”, or the deranged lunatic like the Joker in “The Dark Night”. They are violent, commanding men, complete out of touch with the real world while committing atrocity after atrocity to feed their blood lust and desire for anarchy. Tony is not one of those killers.

We are introduced to our anti-hero as a small, pathetic man who lives in a rundown London slum. He has been unemployed for 20 years, and spends his time watching 80s action films in his dirty apartment. He has no friends or family. He looks like the kind of man that would be arrested for kiddie porn. Tony, despite being so reclusive, frequents both female prostitutes and gay bars, apparently for attention. This all makes him seem that much more pathetic, the chronic loser alone in his small shithole eating microwave dinners. Oh yes, he also brutally murders those who would seek to push him around. Drug dealers, aggressive gay men, and others all end up on Tony’s dead list. He doesn’t appear to gain excitement or sexual gratification from such murders; instead it merely seems that at some point in his shitty life he figured out that murdering someone was the quickest way to eradicate a problem. He chops up the bodies in his sink and disposes of them in the dirty river nearby, after carefully wrapping the parts neatly in newspaper and a plastic sack, much like a deranged butcher.

If you are looking for a good crime film, or a film about a menacing pyscho: this is not it. We are offered no explanation for Tony’s behavior. There is no wily old detective on his trail. By the end of the film, things are not better or worse, they just ARE. Several times throughout the film, I forgot it was a movie, and more seemed like I was looking through a window at a real life person in London just eating crap food and murdering assholes. It is raw, and honest, and cold. I think that the matter-of-fact manner in which Gerard Johnson portrays his anti-hero makes him a sympathetic character. Is Tony really a bad guy? Did he really deserve scorn? Or was he an unfortunate loser trapped in a cycle of monotony and necessary violence? There is an almost touching seen when we see Tony awake in his dirty bed lying next to a corpse from the night before. He cheerfully greets the cadaver good morning, and asks if he would like a cup of tea. Is this the behavior of a menace to society, or a pathetic fuck up with no way to interact with the human beings around him? When people are nice to Tony, he is polite and distant, and they live. When people are mean to Tony, he is polite and distant, and they die. Simple as that. By the end of the film, I was rooting for Tony, and I feel most others will feel the same way.

This was an extremely simple film, shot on limited budget, with limited music and no actors I recognized. Peter Ferdinando does a fantastic job of portraying our star, chilling and mesmerizing. This is a superb film, and the best serial killer film I have seen since “American Pyscho”, and while I don’t think Tony will ever be as popular as Patrick Bateman, he certainly deserves his place among terrifying movie killers. And all because he looks just like a guy any one of us would know.

– Adam Schirling

Tony on IMDB
Buy Tony [DVD]


The Innkeepers (2011)

“The Innkeepers”- an Adam Schirling review

***Warning, 2 Spoiler Alerts:
1) I am going to tell you how this crapfest ends
2) If you ever saw Top Gun and wanted to bang Kelly McGillis do not watch this movie

The other day while in the local Stop-n-Shop picking up groceries, my old lady and I decided to peruse the Red Box for any possible good movies to check out. For my British or Aussie friends who may not be in the know, the Red Box is a giant dvd rental vending machine where you can rent an assortment of new releases or older titles for 1 buck a day. So, once more, I feel that the $1 rental fee makes all titles subject to possible review by the esteemed ISCFC.

The Innkeepers popped up on the first screen in ‘Horror’….Creepy DVD cover art? Check. Haunted New England hotel? Always cool. And, wait…Kelly McGillis???!!!???!! Maverick’s girl toy from Top Gun? No fucking way! I had to have this movie on my screen immediately. As soon as dinner was over and drinks were poured, I popped it in, surrounded by my old lady, my lil sis, and good friend & DA artist Tom Butts.

Very quickly you could see the influence the director had from movies like Poltergeist. It was quickly established that this was a ‘creepy hotel’, all the pre-requisites were present. Last weekend open, owner in Barbados, two barely competent employees left to run the joint, strange guests checking in…….All the plot points were filling in nicely. Dread was building. Stories of supposed ghosts were told. A couple cheesy bullshit ‘boo’ scenes were even forgivable, as you could see the point, a young director trying to break up plot building with slight comedy to keep you guessing. I am fucking saying, friends that I was on board with it all at first.

My biggest complaint with the torture porn films of the mid 2000s was the lack of buildup. There were no subtle nuances; they just threw the gore in your face until you couldn’t take it anymore. So I was pleased to see a film take its time, establish some characters (as flat and cliché as they all were), and make a backstory. But then……we kept waiting….and waiting….and waiting……

Kelly McGillis shows up as a failed actress (HA!) and drunk who is in town for a ‘psychic medium conference’….I have no doubt that such conferences exist, but what were the chances of this old bitch staying at the one haunted hotel on its last weekend? OH, Kelly….For those of you with fond remembrance of the spunky blonde from Top Gun; the brilliant Intel specialist with a thing for renegade pilots: You Shall Be Disappointed. She has been replaced with a frumpy old butch haired lesbian with zero acting ability. In this film she portrays the ‘old psychic’ role poorly, offering only the fucking cliché advice “stay out of the basement!!!!”…Listen fuckers, I live in a 100 year old house in New England, and I fucking know to not be hanging out in the goddamn basement for no reason. And to insult our intelligence even more: the clerk in question that warning was directed to keeps going in the fucking basement!!!If you find yourself in a creepy house, and a psychic tells you to stay the hell out of the basement, just fucking do it.

So, we have more buildup, and more buildup, and more buildup…..It becomes obvious that the scene is being set for a big giant evil showdown in the damn basement. The female clerk in question (played by Sara Paxton, who did a stand up job in the Last House on the Left remake) figures out this bad shit is going to go down asap, and escaping it is literally as easy as walking out the front door of the small hotel in the middle of a quaint Connecticut downtown street (this was NOT the goddamn Overlook stuck high up in the mountains of Colorado, escaping literally would require walking about 25 ft.) but still she hangs out….and keeps going in the fucking basement…

NOW FINALLY, YES! She is trapped in the basement, something is chasing her. She runs into the small basement closet (that’s always the right choice, trapping yourself) and lo and behold the slow moving cliché ‘dead bride’ ghost appears and we get a fucking ‘fade to black’….motherfucker!!! ANOTHER FUCKING SOPRANOS ENDING!!!

Not entirely, as the scene opens the next morning to her dead body being brought out on a stretcher, and her fellow incompetent employee giving the ole’ “I can’t believe it” statement to the cops, all the while Kelly Mcgills stares out the window sadly, no doubt starting to second guess her tactic of just warning people to stay out the basement….As the scene fades out we get a glimpse of a room of the hotel, with a very quick slight shot of a shadowy ghost of Sara Paxton in the room before the door slams and credits roll.

Almost 2 fucking hours of plot building and dumbass clichés just to keep you hoping for a big crazy Poltergeist type payoff in the form of the house literally shitting itself with demons and ghosts, but nope, we get a hipster getting stuck in the basement and the slow ghost bride eating her, or stabbing her, or who fucking knows what.

People, just listen to your ole Uncle Adam and Aunt Kelly McGillis and stay out of the fucking basement.

The Innkeepers on IMDB
Buy The Innkeepers [DVD]